Camps for healing and cultural connection
- Last updated:
- 28 June 2021 12:14PM
- First published:
- 28 June 2021 10:07AM
At a 5-day camp on Yuggera country near Ipswich recently, 9 young First Nations women at risk of homelessness are reconnecting to culture with the help of local Elders.
The camp is run by the Kirrawe Indigenous Corporation — a Logan community organisation that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
“We see these camps as a way of creating a sense of belonging and community for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth,” says Dr Rosemary Norman-Hill, chief executive officer of Kirrawe and a proud Dharug and Dharawal woman.
“The most important and critical thing we do is to connect with their spirit, because that is what has been damaged while they’ve been in situations that have been no fault of their own.”
In 2020, Kirrawe received funding through the Queensland Government’s $2.5 million Dignity First Fund to run the program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people at-risk of homelessness in Logan.
Local Elders attend the camps and share their knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Youth mentors encourage connection and conversation around trauma.
“These young people are moving from place to place, from people to people, unable to form the attachments that are so necessary for them,” says Dr Norman-Hill.
“We have Aboriginal Elders who provide group activities and support for the young people. The mentors here are amazing young people who have a heart for this and are really connecting with these girls,” says Dr Norman-Hill.
Elders provide positive role models
Aunty Bev is a proud Aboriginal and South Sea Islander Elder and volunteer counsellor at Kirrawe and says homelessness is more than having no home to go to.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people home is within; it’s a spiritual building inside of us. Not just a dwelling with four walls,” she says.
“A lot of our young people has lost their culture. As Elders and older people, we need our young people to grow up and learn the culture way – it’s part of their spirituality, their strength.”
The camps encourage the young participants to grow into strong and proud First Nations peoples.
“I think a lot of young people just need someone to listen to them,” says Aunty Bev.
“You know these young women, they come from stressful homes; they are separated from their loved ones. They worry about the next day, where they’re going to live and who they’re going to talk to.
“We just need to listen and impart to them what us older people have gone through.
“I encourage them to be very strong and follow what they believe in. If they just follow that dream in their heart, they’ll achieve it.”
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